500 Shakespearean Sonnets
The Diary of a Poetic Quest for Truth
by Ryan J-W Smith
Reviewed by Delphi Ellis
This understated paperback appears as a simple black cover with red writing and 500 sonnets within – it literally does what it says on the tin.
When I first picked up the book I was intrigued to see the sonnets laid out almost like short hymns inside – nothing else. I felt sure the poems must speak for themselves and I was not disappointed. The book was a mini bible of self-discovery for the author and has the potential to become so much more for the reader.
Smith gives a heart-warming introduction explaining that the sonnets were in fact his personal therapy. Following a particularly dark period in his life, the playwright embraced mindfulness along a Buddhist path and took it upon himself to dedicate his time – and thoughts – to constructive poetry. The sonnets are an honest reflection of his journey towards spiritual revelation – or revolution – as he does battle with his own mind and what he describes as his "doubled state".
There is no doubt that the author is a talented, witty and extremely intelligent man. But for me, what makes this poetry worth reading is Smith's courage to bare his soul as he embraced a spiritual path. In-so-doing he commits himself to helping others see the benefits of creative writing and mindfulness as a successful means of overcoming depression. He writes in Sonnet 110 that he and the universe made a plan together to "give sight to eyes then blind" – simply beautiful.
I recommend this book to all who have an interest in poetry, are overcoming depression or recognise they are on a spiritual journey. You will surely find a world of insight waiting to be interpreted in this small but powerful little book.
Available to buy for £14.99 from Duckpaddle Publishing here.